Kenyatta and the line bounce back
The Tampa Tribune, published 16 September 2002

Kenyatta Walker got advance warning this time. The Bucs' beleaguered right tackle found out Saturday he would start Sunday against Baltimore. Last week, Walker discovered he was inactive for the home opener against New Orleans when he showed up in the locker room and his uniform wasn't hanging in his locker. "Sitting on that sideline really affected me,'' Walker said. "I've never been in that position. I've always been the starter wherever I've been. It woke me up.''

The Bucs offensive line seemed to wake up as well Sunday. Following a dismal performance against the Saints, in which quarterback Brad Johnson was sacked three times, Tampa Bay's offensive line rebounded with a solid effort against the Ravens. Johnson was sacked just once Sunday. "We had some issues here that needed to be addressed and they were,'' center Jeff Christy said.

But there are still issues that need to be worked out. Sunday wasn't a cure-all for the line. The Bucs' running game struggled, averaging just 2.5 yards per carry. "We still have a long way to go,'' said right guard Cosey Coleman, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the preseason and home opener with a knee injury. "In terms of the offense, we are still not a finished product. Today was a good starting point, but we still have a long way to go.''

The line is tired of hearing how their struggles are costing the team. "Every time you hear about the Bucs, you hear about how horrible the offensive line is, that we can't protect,'' Walker said. "That's just something we've got to erase. The best way to erase it is to be on the field doing it. The offensive line has talent.''

Walker is one of those players the Bucs think has the talent. His outburst over his inactive status following the loss to New Orleans led to a meeting with coach Jon Gruden and offensive line coach Bill Muir. It was a necessary meeting, Walker said, so that everyone "got on the same page.'' "To be the man, to have the spotlight, to have the glamour, you've got to be able to handle the tough times,'' Walker said. "You've got to be responsible. You've got to be professional about it. This is just a start for me. I just did what I was supposed to do, nothing special. That's all they want. This was just the start.''

And a start for a rebuilt offensive line. "We come out to chop wood every week,'' Christy said. "We don't really have a bunch of big names or superstars. The only satisfaction we get is the win or 150 yards rushing. I know talking with the guys, we're all extremely happy about the win, but we still have a long ways to go. We'll just come out next week and try to do better.''